Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk may be talking about outlawing driving in the distant future, but another car company boss is aiming aiming for the sky. His company’s next big venture is a self-flying car.
CEO Juraj Vaculik , head of Aeromobil, a Slovakian firm, made the announcement at the South by Southwest Interactive conference during a panel on the future of flying cars, earlier this week. He also said the company will be producing fully fledged consumer vehicles by 2017.
Vaculik estimated the retail price of the flying car in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, on par with super cars. It will be marketed toward “wealthy supercar buyers and flight enthusiasts.”
Vaculik said he first dreamed of the flying car 25 years ago as a way to escape an oppressive political regime in Czechoslovakia. Political restrictions are no longer an issue, but he believes we still live in three prisons: traffic prison, airport prison and the prison of inadequate infrastructure.
AeroMobil showed of its first working flying car prototype at the Montreal Aerotech Congress in 2013. In October, it unveiled AeroMobil 3.0 at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna. The newest prototype fits into a parking spot, uses regular gas and takes off and lands within 200 metres. Vaculik envisions landing strips built alongside highways.
Two people can fit in the flying car, which has a range of 700 km and a top speed of 200 km/h in the air. The company hopes to release a four seater in the future.
But Aeromobil certainly has some hurdles to jump before selling anything even though 3.0 meets regulatory requirements for both cars and planes.
“We need to match 100 years of bureaucracy in the air and 100 years of bureaucracy on the ground. It’s not easy,” Vaculik said. He hopes flying cars will become a new regulatory category.
While many people have dreamed of flying cars from Jules Verne to Doc Brown, no one has been able to succeed, other than in the movies.
The Taylor Aerocar was designed and built in 1949, but never entered production. In 1956 a design team at Ford built a 3/8 scale concept designed to have ducted fans. And in the 1980s a team of former Boeing engineers built the Sky Commuter. The company burned through about $6 million of investors’ money before scrapping the project. A prototype, that doesn’t fly, was sold on eBay in 2008 for about $130,000. Another prototype will be offered at an auction next month in Arizona.
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